Corpus Littéraire Étampois
Luise Mühlbach
Pöllnitz et Cartouche à Étampes en 1720
[Berlin et Sans-Souci, livre II, chapitre XVIII, in finem]
Frédéric le Grand, roi de Prusse      La très prolixe Luise Mühlbach (1814-1873), de son vrai nom Klara Mundt, a écrit de nombreux romans historiques dont toute une série, Friedrich der Große und sein Hof, se passe au 18e siècle à la cour de Frédéric de Prusse. Nous reprenons ici dans sa version anglaise un passage du volume Berlin und Sanssouci, oder Friedrich der Große und seine Freunde, «Berlin et Sans-Souci, ou Frédéric le Grand et ses amis».
     Nous y voyons 
le Baron von Pöllnitz, célèbre voyageur, et alors chambellan de Frédéric le Grand, raconter incidemment à ce roi comment il aurait dans sa jeunesse, en 1720, à Étampes, échappé de peu au célèbre brigand français Cartouche.
     Cet ancien condisciple de Voltaire, devenu brigand, défraya la chronique pendant dix ans, avant d’être enfin arrêté et exécuté le 27 novembre 1721. A cette heure, nous ne savons pas avec certitude si cet épisode est totalement imaginaire ou l’auteur s’y inspire d
un passage précis des Mémoires ou des Lettres du baron von Pöllnitz, que Voltaire a bien connu bien lors de son séjour à la Cour de Prusse, et qui paraît avoir été un personnage fort pittoresque.

     Merci à qui pourrait nous communiquer la version allemande originale de ce passage, ainsi qu’une version française faite sur le texte original, ou encore nous confirmer qu’on ne trouve aucune allusion à cet épisode dans les ouvrages de von Pöllnitz.
Pöllnitz et Cartouche à Étampes
Frédéric le Grand, roi de Prusse      "Oh, that the whole world could hear the exalted and high-hearted words of my king!" cried Pollnitz, with well-acted enthusiasm. "Thrice blessed is that nation which has such a ruler!"

     The king looked at him searchingly. "You flatter me; you want something, of course."

     "No, sire, I swear I come with the purest intentions."

     "Intentions? You have, then, intentions?"

     "Yes, sire, but now that I stand here face to face with you, I feel that my courage fails, and I cannot speak what I intended."

     "Now truly," said the king, laughing, "the circumstances must indeed be dangerous which deprive Baron Pollnitz of the power of speech."

Cartouche incarné par Jean-Paul Belmondo en 1961      "Words, your majesty, are important things. Once a few words saved me from death; it may be that a few words, spoken this day to your majesty, may bring me into disfavor, and that would be worse than death."

     "What were the words which saved you from death?"

     "These, sire: 'Va-t-en, noble guerrier!'"

     "This took place in France?"

     "In Paris, sire. I was dining in a small hotel in the village of Etampes, near Paris. A very elegant cavalier sat next me and from time to time, as if accidentally, addressed me in a refined and winning way; he informed himself as to my intentions and circumstances. I was an inexperienced youth, and the cavalier was adroit in questioning. This was at the time of the Mississippi speculation of the great financier Law. I had gained that day, in the Rue Quinquempois, the sum of four hundred thousand francs. I had this money with me, and after dinner I proposed to go to Versailles. I was not without apprehension, the streets were unsafe, and Cartouche with his whole band of robbers had for some time taken possession of the environs of Paris, and made them the theatre of his daring deeds."

     "So you received your new friend trustingly?" said the king, laughing heartily.

     "Yes, sire, and we had just agreed as to the hour of our departure, when a little maiden appeared under the window of our dining-room and sang in a loud, clear voice, 'Va-t-en, noble guerrier!' The strange cavalier rose and stepped to the window to give her a few sous, then went out--and I saw him no more."

     "And you conclude from this that the words of the song saved your life? you think that the man with whom you were eating was a poisoner?"
Louis-Dominique Bourguignon dit Cartouche (1693-1721)
     "I thought nothing, sire, and forgot the adventure. A year after, I was standing in the street as Cartouche was being led to execution. All Paris was abroad to see the famous brigand. I had a good place, the procession passed immediately by me, and look you, I recognized in the poor sinner now being led to execution, the elegant gentleman of the cabaret at Etampes! He knew me also and stood still for a moment. 'Sir,' said he, 'I dined with you a year ago. The words of an old song gave me notice to leave the cabaret immediately. They announced to me that the pursuers were on my heels; your star was in the ascendant, stranger; had I accompanied you to Versailles, you would have lost your gold and your life.' Your majesty will now understand that these words, 'Va-t-en, noble guerrier,' saved my life."

     "I confess it, and I am now most curious to hear the words which you fear will bring my displeasure upon you."

     Source: texte de la 10e édition anglo-saxonne mise en ligne par The Gutemberg Project.

Luise MÜHLBACH (pseudonyme de Klara MUNDT, 1814-1873), Berlin und Sanssouci, oder Friedrich der Große und seine Freunde [in-8°], Leipzig, Voigt & Günther, 1858 [3e édition].   

Version anglaise

     Luise MÜHLBACH [author of Joseph II. and his Court, Frederic the Great and his Court, Merchant of Berlin, etc.], Berlin and Sans-Souci [20 cm, V+391 p.], New York, D. Appleton & company, 1867. Rééditions: [23 cm; 302 p., planches], 1890; [22 cm; III+VIII+497 p.], vers 1898. Le site marchand Amazon recense quatorze éditions de cette version anglaise, dont une recension par Pat LAMKEN (San Francisco, Californie, USA), «A writer too long forgotten», June 12, 2002 mise en ligne par le site marchand Amazon:

     What a pleasure to see the novels of Louise Muehlbach finally being brought back. Muehlbach, the pen name of Clara Mundt, was the daughter of one famous historian, and the wife of another-both professors at the University of Berlin - but in the early 19th century for a woman to become a professional historian was virtually impossible. She therefore turned to writing historical novels, and was one of the best-selling writers in German during the mid-19th century, producing over 100 books, about two-thirds of which were translated into English. This in addition to raising 5 children, managing a large household, and being involved in literary and cultural society! Her work remained popular as late as the first World War, but as with many popular writers - especially women - has never been regarded as "serious" and therefore has not survived. This is regrettable. Her work has, by today's standards, numerous historical errors - probably unavoidable under the circumstances - and she firmly displays opinions and prejudices of her own. On the other hand, most of her novels deal with persons and times only vaguely known to the average English-speaking reader, and offer a fascinating glimpse into strange worlds. And most important, she has the one indispensable gift of the novelist - she is a wonderful storyteller, who keeps the reader turning the pages and wondering what will happen next. Any reader who enjoys historical novels, or who is interested in German history should give her work a try.
     This particular item - "Berlin and Sans Souci" - is part of a long series of novels on the Prussian Royal Family. Readers who are not familiar with the time period may find some of it puzzling. The publishers probably selected this volume for reprint due to one of the subplots, which involves a medical student "Lupinus" - who at the moment of his final exam is revealed to be a woman, and who is nevertheless granted her medical degree! This is the kind of side excursion the author always loved, and which adds an erratic charm to her work. Here’s hoping the publishers continue to add to the series.

Édition électronique de la version anglaise

     Charles FRANKS & «The Online Distributed Proofreading Team» [éd.], Louise Muhlbach: Berlin and Sans-Souci [1020 KB], in The Gutemberg Project [«etext» 4205; «series by L. Muhlbach» #12],, 2003, en ligne en 2005.


     Günter MÜHLBERGER & Kurt HABITZEL «The German Historical Novel (1780-1945)», in Durrani von OSMAN & Julian PREECE [éd.], The German Historical Novel from 1780 to 1945. Utilising the Innsbruck Database. Travellers in Time and Space. Reisende durch Zeit und Raum. The German Historical Novel / Der deutschsprachige historische Roman, Amsterdam, Rudopi [«Amsterdamer Beiträge zur neueren Germanistik» 51], 2001, pp. 5-23 [dont une réédition numérique en mode textein Projekt Historischer Roman. The German Historical Novel (1780-1945),, en ligne en 2005.

     The most productive writer of the period - and, incidentally, of the historical novel altogether - was Louise Mühlbach (=Clara Mundt), who published 33 novels in as many as 174 volumes between 1847 and 1874. 

Mémoires du baron von Pöllnitz
(où Cartouche ni Étampes ne paraissent pas être mentionnés en réalité,
du moins d'après la table des matière des Méoires du baron)

     Charles-Louis, baron de PÖLLNITZ [Karl Ludwig von PÖLLNITZ, voyagea en Europe de 1710 à 1723; chambellan de la Cour de Prusse], Mémoires De Charles-Louis Baron De Pollnitz. Contenant les Observations dans ses Voyages, Et Caractere des Personnes, les Principales Cours De L’Europe. En 4 volumes [5 vol. in-8°], Amsterdam, Charles Hoguel, & Compagnie, 1735.

     Charles-Louis, baron de PÖLLNITZ, Lettres et mémoires du Bon de Pöllnitz,... 3e édition... [5 vol. in-8°], Amsterdam, F. Changuion, 1737.
     Karl Ludwig von PÖLLNITZ (var. Carl, var. POELLNITZ; en français Charles-Louis, en anglais Charles-Lewis), The memoirs of Charles-Lewis, baron de Pollnitz, being the observations he made in his late travels from Prussia thro’ Germany, Italy, France, Flanders, Holland, England, &c.: in letters to his friend: discovering not only the present state of the chief cities and towns, but the characters of the principal persons at the several courts [4 volumes: XXIII+431 p.; 472 p.; VI+360 p.; 355 p.; table des matières à la fin de chaque tome], London [Londres], Daniel Browne, 1739, dont 5 microfiches, dont une édition numérique en mode image par la BNF sur son site Gallica,,,,, 2001, en ligne en 2005.

     Albert SAVINE (1859-1927) [éd.], Un Séjour en France sous Louis XV. Lettres du Baron de Pöllnitz, annotées d’après les documents d’archives et les mémoires [in-16; 192 p.; figures], Paris, L. Michaud [«Collection historique illustrée»], 1909.

Tout complément sera le bienvenu. Any supplement welcome! 
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